Food Aid Needed For Eight Million People In Ethiopia

Food Aid Needed For Eight Million People In Ethiopia


            Panafrican News Agency, January 21, 2000

            by Ghion Hagos


            Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - More than eight million people in Ethiopia will

            need food aid this year due to the effects of natural disasters over the past 18



            Announcing this in Addis Ababa Friday, the head of the government's relief aid

            agency appealed to international donors to provide 821,000 metric tonnes of food

            grains to feed them.


            The commissioner of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission,

            Simon Mechale, made the appeal during a briefing with ambassadors of donor

            countries and representatives of international organisations from donor countries

            as well as international organisations and NGOs.


            State radio quoted Simon as saying that a large number of people in need of food

            aid this year was due to natural disasters that had affected the country over the

            past 18 moths.


            He said there had been repeated failure of the so-called "belg" or small rains from

            February to mid-April in 1999 in many parts of the country. On the other hand,

            the  June- September normal rains were scanty and insufficient in some other

            parts, including the main grain growing areas.


            The government's figures were corroborated by FAO and WFP representatives at

            ajoint conference on Friday afternoon. FAO representative Alex V. Obeng and

            Sime Debella, who headed the team that made the assessment of crops in  

            Ethiopia last September, said the country's grain harvest was estimated at 10.72

            million tonnes in 1999. This was about 6 percent below that of 1998 but 22

            percent higher than the poor year of 1997.


            The 1999 harvest was still 9 percent below the record harvest in 1996.

            WFP country representative and director, Judith Lewis, said an estimated 7.8

            million people affected by natural disaster in Ethiopia require 764,000 metric

            tonnes of food grain in 2000.


            The Ethiopian government told the diplomats that some 272,000 metric tonnes of

            food aid was required to feed some 350,000 people internally displaced as a result

            of the border conflict with Eritrea.


           Lewis said that Ethiopia's current food deficit stands at 651,000 metric tonnes,

           which was rather vast.